Shane Vereen burned the Texans for 83 yards and two touchdowns on five receptions and added another 41 yards and a score on seven carries to lift the Patriots to a 41-28 victory in the Divisional round of the playoffs.
It was a coming out party for the 2011 second-rounder, who took over as the passing-down specialist with Danny Woodhead sidelined by a thumb injury. After putting the Pats ahead on a 1-yard touchdown run, Vereen was left wide open in the flat for an 8-yard score. Staking New England to a 38-13 lead, he put the game away early in the fourth quarter on perfectly thrown over-the-shoulder pass for a 33-yard touchdown at the pylon. He joined Rob Gronkowski and Curtis Martin as the only players in franchise history with three touchdowns in a playoff game. The well-rounded Vereen proved to be a play-making upgrade on Woodhead and a fine change-of-pace to Stevan Ridley. Look for Bill Belichick to increase his role going forward. He's certainly earned it.